There’s clarity that comes with height
when we pace the top of the world
where only the wind
and the deer live.
We place ourselves above civilization,
which looks both physically better
and fundamentally worse
the farther away you move from it.
The tar-filed cracks in broken pavement,
the gray, oppressive clouds of smog,
the constant noise of our machines
fade as you climb until
the world is laid out before you
in distant, unobtainable perfection,
and it’s hard to know why
no one else down there can see
with perfect clarity
the obvious solutions we have found
to humanity’s most persistent demons
when we’ve climbed and conquered mountains.
I love falling asleep with the windows open
when it’s warm outside and the breeze
is playing with the leaves.
It stirs the grass, the blinds,
the chimes we bought in Nassau,
and my mind. It carries a scent as it sighs
through the trees and into my room—
a green scent that never sleeps,
but tumbles, ageless, from one tree to another,
from one town to another, from one end of the earth
to the other. It cannot be seen,
and so engages only my other senses:
smell and sound and something
deeper, something primeval,
like the force that drives migrations.
It calls me like the ocean calls a mariner.
I lay in bed and wonder where the breeze began,
where it goes, and what it does in between.
But then I remember;
I already know what it does in between.
It stirs the leaves, the grass, the chimes—
imbues them with its scent and is, in turn, imbued.
It stirs me as I lay in bed,
and, slowly, I drift away with it.
The most disorienting mistake
that people ever make
is brutishly resisting that
they are animals.
The second seems just as rational,
until it’s taken too far;
it’s that of insisting that
animals are all that people really are.
Across the pond the willow tree
in gentle swaying majesty
tosses her lengthy locks of hair
in the breeze that sings through the morning air.
She fixes a bird on her head like a pin,
and, when the water is still as a glass, gazes in.
Then, lest she should err, I wander around
to the shore where she stands on the uneven ground
and tell her such measures are not to be borne,
for the willow tree’s beauty looks best unadorned.
The grass is tossed and tumbled
in shining colored waves
that ripple in warm bursts of wind
across the verdant clearing.
The smell of sage and pine needles
is lifted to the water’s edge
and bursts down heavily against
its glossy sun-streaked surface.
Life is smaller here and simpler,
primeval maybe, but rich.
As rich as the shining colored waves of grass
tossed by the breeze, scent-laden.
At the top
of the hill
till everywhere you looked
deep and bright and welcoming,
as if it had not
at lower elevations
but was born and died anew
as altitude was gained or lost.